Sunday, May 23, 2010

Are artists ever satisfied?

Geranium Garden (detail)
Original oil painting 12x16"
by Susan Roux

I visited Rahina Q.H.'s site this morning and she admitted destroying a lot of her paintings during the past few weeks. It reminded me of a conversation I just had yesterday with artist/friend, Sandy Dunn.

Is an artist ever satisfied?

Sandy thought yes. Masters who know exactly how to capture what they want to convey and are in total control, must be satisfied. As we talked further on the subject, we were both left really wondering.

I recently did a painting and got to the point where the canvas was covered and appeared complete. It struck me because, years ago I would have been very satisfied with my achievement. Now however, I was not. There was a feeling I'd set out to capture that wasn't present. I contemplated for a few days trying to decide how to continue. I did return to the canvas, improving the feeling, but wishing I had nailed it better.

We discussed this. As an artist improves, does his or her expectations increase? And if so, will we ever be satisfied? Or... do the artist's expectations continue to increase at an equal rate to their seasoned ability, never allowing satisfaction?

I think we'll never be satisfied.

That's not to say there won't be a few paintings along the way that we are happy with. It just seems to me the further I get in this art world, the more I try to push myself and the less I feel satisfied with my work. Perhaps this on-going tug is what propels us. What drives us. Dare I say, sometimes insanely, to create and capture that which we have never achieved. I seem to want to be in control. I feel I should be in control. But too often, I feel like I don't even know what I'm doing!

Painting is hard.

I think it will always be hard. No matter how seasoned an artist we become. Yes, we'll figure out some things and be in control of those. But we'll always want to be in control of more. Like a crazy carnival ride that has us feeling like were flying by the seat of our pants, each painting gives us that same exhilarating rush. We're forever addicted to this seemingly idle activity, that really has our insides jumping and twisted completely out of control!

Sandy and I painted outdoors for the first time this year. Relaxed in the haven of my garden, we both found ourselves anxious. Forgetting how to paint in plein air fell upon our shoulders... Each year it seems occur. How to incorporate what we've learned in the studio during the past year, to the outdoors. It was less scary doing it together. Sandy and I are good for each other. Encouragement eased the anxiety.

Posted is a close-up of the painting I did. Here is the full painting.

The detail version was my favorite part of the painting. I decided to try another capturing that dreamy feeling. This is the outcome.

I want to attempt a third, using the top version as my guide. It will be interesting to see if I can achieve this feeling again... (note: the harsh visible darks are only present in the photos.)

Are we ever satisfied?

Perhaps the real question should be, "Do we ever stop learning?" And the answer is, "I don't think we do."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Date confirmed

Beach Walkers
Original oil painting 16x20
by Susan Roux

I recently finished this painting with one of my classes and delivered it to The Wright Gallery on Monday. This is Goose Rocks Beach. Its located just down the street from the gallery. Charlie told me last year, that in this bad economy, paintings of recognizable local scenes might sell better. This is my attempt to see if he's right.

My life has been bustling.

As you know, Martine-Alison is coming for a visit. She arrives on Thursday and will be here for three weeks. As the time closes in, its difficult to express my true feelings and excitement for this reunion. It goes beyond words... We plan to take photos of our time together and post them here, to share with all of you. Last minute preparations are continuing at both ends. She's finally figured out how to transport art on the plane and has it packed securely in a carry-on. Her frames are unassembled to save space. Glueing them on the first night is a priority as we are delivering them to the Blue Heron Gallery the following day. As for myself, I'm trying to finish my gardening projects and failing... There will be more planting to do later, together. And... last but certainly not least, does anyone have a cleaning lady they can share?!!

But this is not all the excitement brewing here...

Yesterday I confirmed the dates, July 16-17-18. This is when the great, comical, witty, dynamic, ever-talented paintbrush pusher, Don Hatfield will teach a workshop in Maine!

Yes, I said in Maine!!!

It is my great honor to have him as my guest and I am currently busy setting up and organizing his workshop. Its an interesting experience, as I have never done this before. It will be an indoor, three-day workshop in Lewiston, Maine. If any of you are interested in traveling here and want to participate in this wonderful opportunity, please contact me here, before it goes out in an announcement to the general, local public. I'm certain the limited space will fill up very quickly! Cost is $325.00 for the three days. Such a bargain for this talent...

Is your life bustling with excitement, too? If not, create some... New experiences and new acquaintances can really stimulate the creative juices! I spoke to you many times before about going to meet each other. I hope you're taking my suggestion. You blood will tingle through your veins like Fourth of July fireworks do in the sky!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Beach morning

Beach House
Original oil painting 18x24"
by Susan Roux

This painting was off to a great start. You remember how exhausted I was when it first started pouring out of me? Well it wasn't without some toiling and suffering before it reached completion.

Its becoming a trend.

I'm not sure why, but it seems they all have a great start. I'm encouraged and inspired. But when it comes to the finish, it starts to breakdown. After this happens on too many paintings its easy to get yourself hoaxed, creating an unnecessary fear.

Yesterday Svetlana came to paint for the day. She said my problem in finishing was only that I was tired. She thinks I'm spreading myself out too thin and when the mind is tired, completing a painting becomes difficult.

Her words were comforting to hear.

So with a tiny bit of additional strokes this painting found itself. I have so much trouble capturing my art in photos, so I'd like to inform you that it is soft and dreamy and not stark as it appears here. For some reason, the softness shows up much better in the close-ups. Therefore I've included some for you...

I really neutralized the background to depict distance. Detail on the house is kept to a minimum. I left a one-inch hard edge on the sun/shadow corner and a longer strip under the overhang to lead the eye. The windows however were left ghostly. I wanted the feeling of a house without the painting being about the house. I was interested in capturing the morning light.

Svetlana called this my waterfall of leaves.

I remember this day at the beach house very well. My brother-in-law does work for the owners and often invites us. Its a rental property on the ocean with a private beach that expands a long way. Nearby is a small public beach. The two are separated by a long rock jetty that is only exposed at low tide and covered with slippery seaweed. Few people trudge across the breakwater, leaving the private part very private.

We had been invited to spend the weekend.

How glorious an invitation! We slept in the bedroom at the left front window. Its yellow and sunny with a white sheer curtain that blows gently into the room when the window is open.

The window is always open...

The sound of the waves either keep you awake, or put you to sleep. I love listening. The window overlooks the ocean which is facing east. As the sun began to rise, the wonderful morning light woke me up.

I slipped out of bed quietly, put on my clothes, grabbed my camera and tiptoed out the sliders to walk the beach.

I stayed out for nearly an hour. In complete solitude I enjoyed the morning light, brilliant with intensity, warm my body as it rose. I was so absorbed in the moment, cherishing it all. I watched as the colors which kissed the seascape changed from yellows to pinks.

The waves with their rhythm broke gently as they reached the shore. Seagulls danced at the edge, their white feathers catching the light.

Oh, it was a wonderful moment indeed.

As I returned to the house, I caught the image that inspired this painting. It too was standing there watching and absorbing the morning sun...

I wasn't alone to view the splendor after all.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Wright Gallery

This is the gallery in Cape Porpoise, Maine that represents my work. I love the name.

The Wright Gallery.

I like to tell people that I'm in The Wright Gallery as oppose to the wrong gallery...

It continually gets me a few laughs and I'm always up for laughter!

The owner Charlie is a hoot!

He has a thriving business, even in this injured economy, and I think its due to his personality. People love to come in to see Charlie. Sometimes I wonder if they come for the art at all or solely for a dose of his humor! Either way, they usually leave with art...

There is wonderful art here. Artists who are represented stay on forever. A relationship with the cheerful owner grows until eventually, you become family. You do not find a yearly shift, but rather consistency between these walls. When Charlie takes you on, he puts you under his wing. I feel very comfortable and blessed to be here.

One of my favorite artists at Charlie's is Diane Leonard. She paints dreamy women and children at the beach. Her colors jump at you and the softness makes your mind drift off, as you place yourself in her paintings. It was to my wonderful surprise to find Diane blogging! We've never met. I'm finding her words as sweet, dreamy and wonderful as her art. No doubt she is pouring herself on canvas. When the art reflects the exact personality of its creator, you know the magic is happening!

I'd like to invite you to come see her blog. She is quiet in the blogging world, so few of you have found her. Come treat yourself to be a part of her "dream". And if you're ever in Maine, do stop by The Wright Gallery. You will not regret seeing her glowing art for real! (Plus you get to see mine too...)

Don't forget to tell Charlie I sent you...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is art dying?

Best in Show

Its no secret to anyone that art is taught completely different nowadays than in the past. What was once structured and guided by rules has completely flipped to pushing creativity in search of the "never-been-done" before. I question myself, "Is art dying?"

Maybe its just me. Maybe I don't get it as much as I think I do. I know art is conceptual and so lends itself to many different interpretations. What captures one viewer may not capture another in the least. But it is my understanding that art is emotion. What pours out of an artist onto canvas (or other support) is their emotional response to their subject. A whole range of emotions can find themselves on canvas. Sadness, anger, happiness, love... To me art happens when the artists can actually convey their emotion to the viewer.

I don't believe art is doing something no one has ever done before.

All that is to me is simply, "something that has never been done before... " If I sit my muddy cat on a clean canvas, I don't call this art. If I grind mud into my canvas and drizzle unset strawberry jello over it and wash it down with organic apple juice, I don't call this art. It may very well be things that have never been done before, but to me, that alone doesn't make it qualify as art.

Maybe its just me...

Posted is a painting that took best in show at an association-run gallery. It is Bacon. It's a print made with bargain bacon on Asian paper. The jurors said, “This very powerful print gets its strength from the color and shape of the composition. The scale of the image, the way it is presented and the placement within the frame all add to a very compelling piece. The work finds success between starkness and complexity that makes it intriguing and fun. The unconventional materials used in producing the work inform the piece with a good mix of metaphor and irony. We applaud the artist for their creativity and exploration.” — Robert Lash & Kerstin Gilg

This is a huge juried show in Maine and the gallery can get as many as 300 entries. It is perhaps the biggest fund raiser the gallery has. A few years back, a wide variety of art could be found there. In recent years, some University professors got involved and the whole flavor of the once totally embracing association changed to exhibiting mostly contemporary art. The three big winners were all created in a sepia tone. Is this the new direction of art? Did I miss the memo? Did I waste my money on my recent order of colored paint?

I didn't enter the juried show. This post is not my anger lashing out because I didn't make the cut. I'm saddened that as time goes by, the college professors are young and they too have never been taught the rules that guide us to great art. The rules that the masters of yesteryear have left behind, passed down from generation to generation. Is art dying?

"A very compelling piece," the jurors said.

To whom? Five marks in a typical counting block is anything but compelling to me.

In todays struggling art market, all too often we hear comments like, "I don't like art. I don't understand it." These are from people who rarely expose themselves to art. They must have never been moved by a piece before. Perhaps the only exposure they get are images of winning pieces posted in local newspapers. They see images like this bacon piece. They are not moved. They continue to think they don't like art. Is it a wonder? I fear a growing negative trend in future potential-art-buyer's minds.

I ask again, "Is art dying?"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Invite an artist

Rose's Colossal Delphiniums
Original oil painting 24x18"
by Susan Roux

I need your help.

As you know, I've been trying to recruit artists to join the blogging world. To some the invitation is casual. "Come check it out. You'd like it." To others, the invitation goes much further. They would truly benefit and are in need of the motivating support-circle we all share.

One in particular.

Her name is Jennifer. She's an artist whose devoted a great deal of time and energy promoting others, with little recognition. She goes out of her way to establish great venues to host exhibitions and invites artists, by the hundreds, to participate. Yet, she stands understated in the shadows. She thrives helping others get exposure in a quiet humble way, never stealing the limelight for herself. Life has been difficult at times. She's battled the difficulties and is a survivor.

Recently, we met for tea. I talked to her about blogging and we both agreed it would be good for her.

Here's where your help comes in...

When life isn't always grand, motivation to start something new is often lacking. My request to you is simple. Here's a pre-written letter to her. Would you please paste it into your mail, fill in the few blanks and send it to this address? It would be wonderful if the art-world finally gave back to her...

Imagine her surprise if everyone who reads this, sends it to her? It gives me happy chills, just thinking about it! Thank you in advance. I know I can count on you.

Hi Jennifer,

I'm . I'd like to invite you to start blogging at www.blogspotcom. I understand you're an artist too, so we're bound to have a lot in common. I look forward to getting to know you and share in your creative works of art.

Please come follow my blog: and let me know as soon as you start your own.

I look forward to following yours too!

Sending you smiles,


You're all so great. Thanks for your help!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wednesday night ladies

Aren't students the best?

This is my neighbor Chris, you remember the one who works for the olympics... She showed up Wednesday for class in this wonderful artist-made shirt. (sorry, don't know the artist...) She saved her left over paints from last week by folding them into a sheet of disposable palette paper. Upon opening it, we all laughed. She never realized how much she looked like her paints...

Yeah, we had to pause for a photo!

It was Cinco de Mayo. Don't you just love an excuse to have a margarita? These are my "wine ladies". My special Wednesday night class. On a whim, a few years ago, it was mentioned by a student that they could loosen-up much better if they were drinking wine...

A bottle was opened in seconds.

They haven't stopped coming to class! We paint. We laugh. We learn and we certainly get crazy! Bless my husband for putting up with us... One thing for sure, we are never quiet.

Chris suggested bringing margaritas for the evening. It was a real spirit-booster! (no pun intended... well, maybe.) Even before taking a sip, the ladies joyful roar began. Does it get any better than this? I can't ever tell who's having more fun, them or me.

...and they pay me for this!

Love you ladies.

Hope your Cinco was celebrated too!

Special photos

Original oil painting 16x20"
by Susan Roux

Are you like me?

I take so many photos. More than I will ever paint. More than I could ever paint in my lifetime. Among them are those special ones that jump out and grab your eye and you know for certain that you will paint them, but you never do...

I'm not sure why. Maybe there's a pressing deadline or a feared-fleeting desire to capture a momentary whim. Your special photos are so striking that you could be stimulated to paint them at any time. There's no need to jump into them instantly.

But time goes by. Perhaps even years and those grabbing photos never become a painting...

I love this whole blogging thing. I keep pushing other artists to try it. There's an art exhibit at your fingertips whenever you want! Its my selling point, aside from the grand camaraderie, of course... Well this morning my cup of coffee was shared with your lovely art show. (thank you, by the way...) Much to my surprise, I found my special photos had come to life on your canvases!

How cool is that?

Well maybe they weren't my exact photos, but so similar and so well painted! You might just have inspired me to finally tackle my own. Carol Schiff's Ocean Sunrise and Tatiana Myers' Poppies were my found inspirations. It was such a treat to stumble upon you today. Two of my special photos in one day! It must be a sign that the day will be good and possibly filled with unexpected surprises... Hope yours will be too.

Posted is the painting from last night's class. Its very close to done. My students will return next week to tweak theirs and though last night, I thought I was finished, I can see a few changes to make. A few unopened buds would love to break the halfway plane of the canvas and carry rose color towards the bottom left.

Interesting how we see it differently after we've taken a photo. (yet another perk to blogging...)

Keep your posts coming, everybody. Your inspiration to all of us is greatly appreciated! (did I mention that I love how you're all here???)

Comments or no comments, thanks for stopping by... Be like LuLu today and go dance in front of your easel!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Beach House

Beach House
Work in progress 18x24"
by Susan Roux

I received Don Hatfield's new DVD in the mail the other day. Its titled, Fantasy Portraits In the Garden. Mike wanted to watch it with me, so we saved it for that evening. It was already late when we got started, so we planned on only watching about half of it.

That didn't happen.

Though it was early get-up in the morning, we stayed up until nearly midnight finishing it. We just couldn't stop. All night I dreamt of painting. (Don't you just love nights like that?) I thought about Don's method and how it differed from my approach. Completely opposite, actually. He begins with grays and adds color over it. I begin with pure color and gray it out...

Nonetheless, it was fun to experience his process and see how he maneuvers the paint around. I feared I'd be stuck in the mud, if I tried his approach!

I haven't been painting, as you well know. Gardening has consumed my every free moment. My body has been absorbing the gifts of nature and as I predicted, at some point I would want to explode on canvas. The following morning, soon after getting Jesse off to school, I was down in my studio. Between Don's instructional movie and dreaming all night about painting, I couldn't wait to pick up my brush!

It was 8:30. I was so inspired. Paint flowed readily from my palette to my canvas. (Yes, Luka was serenading me through my nano...) It was one of those moments when you get to do exactly what you wish to do. I felt happy and blessed and the paint wanted to sing! I didn't even try to paint like Don. Pure color. Saturated color. Nice, juicy, delicious creamy oils hit the canvas as bright light. Each stroke invigorated me even more.

Its close to heaven, when your muse is fired up and moving through you!

I poured all I had into this canvas. I felt myself exhausted. I stopped for a break. It was now 9:30. How could only one hour have passed? It didn't make sense.

Have you ever poured so much of yourself that exhaustion hits so soon?

I knew I must pace myself. I returned after a short break. I didn't want to stop. I worked for two hours more and the painting sits at this stage. I'm not sure if I'll get back to it today. Commitments fill my moments. Perhaps I will find some time...

I was really loving working wet in wet. I hope it doesn't set too soon... My mind continually analyses where I'm at and where I want to go. These forced breaks in painting time can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. It gives you time to reflect on the work you're done and hopefully allow you to see those passages you want to preserve. Overworking the canvas is a downfall of many of us, myself included. I see so many values, its hard not to put them all in...

If you haven't seen Don's DVD yet, I highly recommend it. It takes place during a workshop. I really enjoyed seeing the artists work around him. It made me feel like I too was there painting. Funny how we find similarities of ourselves in other artists' work. I found myself wondering how I would have approached this subject if I had been present.

Enjoy your painting time. Let yourself be swept away with delicious color!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Been outdoors...

I've been gardening.

Its one of my other great pleasures. I know I've mentioned that before...

Perennials are my favorites. From bulbs to plants, they begin their colorful show just as the snow melts. Unlike annuals that require warm temperatures, many perennials can tolerate Maine conditions. Yeah! Its only the beginning of May and I have color throughout my yard. We had a mild, early-ending winter and plants are eager to burst into bloom well before their usual debut. Tulips are still blooming and typical June flowers have large buds ready to pop!

I can't stop myself from going outside.

Everything has come early. The leaves, the grass, the birds, the warm temperatures and yes, even the bugs!

There are plants like Russian Sage and Lavender that I've wanted in my garden for awhile now. Size is a factor. I have little room left for such large plants. My solution has been to make a new garden. So lately I've been removing grass and adding compost to create a bed for these desired "purple" beauties.

I must say, we use different muscles doing this work than when we paint...

My body screams at me in the morning, but it isn't enough to stop me. My love for nature and color extends pass the easel. For me, imagining which flowers will bloom together and placing them so the colors and size will compliment each other is very similar to painting. The biggest difference being that I have to wait to see the results. Little green tufts, that will later bloom in color, or tiny bulbs are like my paints. Place each at a special spot and the result will be beautiful. My imagination peeks and I'm swept away with this more physical type of creation.

The work is plentiful in the spring. Its easiest to move plants around at this time. Spring rains and the lack of scorching temperatures help ease the transplants into their new locations. Every year the show, the completed canvas, is different. Soon my heavy work will be done. The remainder of the season is devoted to enjoying the creation in its constant performance. As one color fades a new one replaces it, like an ongoing dance titillating the eyes.

Later I will bring my easel outside. Somedays I'll paint the floral display. Other times I will paint, like in the studio, but in the beauty of my gardens. I paint best when I'm happy and at peace. In the midst of my flower dance, my creative spirit easily takes flight. All the work I do now is in anticipation of the display later.

Luka Bloom, you know the Irish singer I like so much.., spoke about writing songs. For this creative portion of his work, he requires quiet times of peace and reflection. Its when you can really hear your inner-self, your spirit speak. I feel the same about painting. There are days when its better for me to stop, relax and listen. Haste doesn't benefit my results. To paint nature, its essential that I take time reflecting in it. Quiet time.

So don't worry that I'm not painting. Soon I will be and this quiet, yet physical time, will add to my creative spirit. The more I absorb in, the more I will have to release out!

Don't spend all your time hurrying through life. Make sure you allow yourself quiet times of reflection. They're essential, for many reasons. Just like the buds on my plants ready to explode into blossoms, you will find your creativity ready to explode on canvas!

Marvelous things can happen...